Archive for ‘Renewables’

April 24, 2017

Party People – achieving truly sustainable development in Medway’s Local Plan

Please see below a piece written by Steve Dyke for Medway Messenger’s Party People column and published on 13th April.

Since writing this, the deadline for responding to the Local Plan consultation has been extended once again to 30th May so there is still time to get your response in!

Details of the consultation can be found here.

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With the deadline for responding to Medway Council’s latest consultation on its Local Plan approaching, my hope is that the Council will review all responses received and be prepared to adapt the Plan accordingly.

To achieve truly sustainable development in Medway requires boldness in planning in order to reduce our ecological footprint to a ‘one planet’ level.  This should be seen as an opportunity rather than a hindrance.  Imagine Medway with a proper cycle network, reliable, accessible and cheap public transport and low energy homes affordable for local people.  Developing the technological expertise locally to build off-site constructed energy efficient homes and renewable energy technologies could reinvigorate our local economy.  This is what is truly meant by “meeting the twin challenges of global competition and a low carbon future”.

We must also ensure that we protect valuable existing green spaces from development.  The most sustainable development option would be to focus on brownfield sites in urban locations close to travel hubs, suggested by the Council within one of the four options in their consultation document. However, they could go much further, such as making better use of existing space through utilising empty premises or building above car parks and in the air space above existing buildings.

Of particular concern is that the Council still wish to press ahead with major development at the Lodge Hill SSSI.  This is despite a policy approach stated in their consultation promising that “a high level of protection from damaging impacts of development will be given to Sites of Special Scientific Interest”.

Medway Green Party would love to see Medway become an inspiration for other areas on how sustainable development can be achieved.  My fear is that we will end up with piecemeal, destructive, unsustainable growth.  I hope the Council will prove me wrong.

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October 12, 2016

Micro-energy generation – a better way to meet our energy needs? By Bernard Hyde

One of our members, Bernard Hyde, recently had a letter posted in the Medway Messenger on the decision to go ahead with Hinkley Point C.  Here he expands on the discussion:

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In the past year, the photo voltaic panels on my modest 1930s end of terrace house have produced about the same amount of electricity as we used to buy from our energy provider, British Gas.

For practical reasons, we were only able to use about half of what we produced and the other half we sold to the National Grid.

With the money we were paid for the electricity we had generated and the money we saved using our own electricity, we enjoyed a tax free eight percent return on our initial investment.

So our house is a micro power station and, in its very small way, it is like the very large nuclear power station approved to be built at Hinkley Point; except it isn’t really.

There is no security fence around our micro power station, we don’t employ guards, there is no fire risk or possible radiation leaks. We don’t have to have regular health checks, we don’t have a highly paid CEO and no foreign governments are involved. Our power source is free and infinite, we don’t have to buy any toxic fuel, there is no dangerous waste product for our descendants to inherit and our equipment is recyclable.

The proposed nuclear power station at Hinkley Point hopes to generate about 7 percent of the entire UK’s energy demand, equivalent to 5.8 million homes. The cost of this Nuclear Power Station is now estimated at £30,000,000,000; that is thirty thousand million pounds. This is just over £5,000 for each of the 5.8 million homes mentioned earlier, or just enough money for a 3 kW photovoltaic system for each house.

So just as I, with my micro power station had to make an initial investment in my photovoltaic panels before any electricity could be generated, our government is borrowing money to make its investment. It has agreed to borrow the money from China and of course the money will have to be paid back with interest. The capital and interest will be paid back by us, the electricity consumers, and it won’t be cheap.

What then are the problems with micro renewable energy generation?

  • The first problem is conceptual. It is too obvious.
  • The second problem is that the technology is sophisticated and not easily understood. We are wedded by history to our Victorian understanding of technology in the way we generate our power and construct our buildings.
  • The third problem is that the power source is free. It is hard for someone to make a quick buck out of selling sunshine or wind or tide.
  • The fourth problem is that the light from the sun isn’t always there. On average throughout the year half of the time is day and half night. The technology to store electricity generated during the day with batteries has lagged behind the technology for converting the light into electricity with solar cells, and battery technology is only just beginning to catch up.
  • The fifth problem is that there is less daylight during the winter, when our energy requirements are greatest. However, winter is the time when winds are strongest and wind and solar make a good combination.
  • The sixth problem is that we are brought up to believe that small units are not efficient. Traditional power stations use a thermodynamic cycle that creates heat to convert into mechanical energy and then into electricity. This is about 35% efficient, whereas photovoltaics can be 100% efficient, especially where buildings are designed and orientated effectively.
  • The seventh problem is distribution efficiency from small units. The electricity from power stations is stepped up and down in voltages via transformers and distributed via transmission lines and cables with a consequent power loss of between 8 and 15% dissipated in heating the environment. Half of the renewable energy our micro power station produces is used directly on site.
  • The eighth problem is that administering a large number of micro power stations is expensive as one imagines meter readers visiting each house and someone writing cheques. However with smart meters, that use cell-phone technology to send readings automatically and internet banking, this doesn’t have to be a problem.
  • The ninth problem is that micro-generation relies on thousands of people to invest a modest amount of money in their own interest and that of their country. It is the complete opposite of the multi-national megalithic corporations who unfortunately have more influence with government decision making.
  • The tenth problem is that the photo-voltaic market has been flooded with cheap Chinese imports that perform less well than their more expensive European competitors. The answer of course is for the UK to make its own high quality equipment.

The problems of renewable energy are ones of perception and commitment that can be solved with education and resolve.

The problems of nuclear power are inherent in the process itself and have no foreseeable solution, in the United Kingdom we have daylight but we don’t have uranium.

These problems are compounded further by the need for foreign involvement and the loss of national security.

Hinkley Point may be an untried French design for a nuclear power plant but that doesn’t make it cutting edge; it is still yesterday’s technology. What we need is fast moving, and fast improving new technology – for tomorrow’s generations to benefit from and enjoy, not to be burdened with and threatened by, and that is renewable energy.

Bernard Hyde, Medway Green Party

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November 3, 2014

Consultation on FCA plans to prevent renewable energy co-ops – Posted by Trish

Financial Conduct Authority refuses to allow creation of new renewable energy co-ops – please respond to consultationWestmill energy farm cooperative : wind turbines and solar panels community ownership

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is currently consulting on new guidance relating to the registration of new co-operatives including renewable energy co-operatives.  This consultation follows a change of approach by the FCA dating from the Spring of this year when they started to reject applications to register new renewable energy co-ops.  Since the Spring a significant number of new Co-operative Societies (previously often known as members co-ops) have been refused registration. To date the problem has not affected Community Benefit Societies (previously known as bencoms).

The reason for this is that the FCA has unilaterally decided that renewable energy co-ops in England, Wales and Scotland are not legitimate co-operatives as they do not directly trade with  their members.   In fact there is no requirement in the 7 principles of the International Co-operative Alliance on co-operatives to trade with their members and in the UK the very tight and highly complex regulatory requirements of the energy supply industry effectively prevents co-ops selling electricity directly to its members.

Renewable energy co-ops are a force for good and a force for change and should be encouraged, not obstructed in this way.  Wider use of the cooperative model can make an important contribution to changes in energy production and consumption which will help democratise the ownership of energy, reduce energy prices, support communities and increase the production of renewable energy which is such a vital tool in the fight against climate change.

The consultation on these matters closes on 28 November 2014.  You can read the document here http://www.fca.org.uk/news/cp1422-guidance-on-the-fcas-registration-function-under-the-cooperative-and-community-benefit-societies-act-2014. Please participate in this consultation and make sure your views are heard.

Send a simple message to the FCA: renewable energy co-ops are a good thing and there should be more of them.  The FCA should register any co-operative that complies with  the international principles of co-operation and not impose additional constraints, such as requiring Co-operative Societies to trade directly with their members.

The 7 co-operative principles by which co-operatives put their values into practice as set out on the official website of the International Co-operative Alliance
1. Voluntary and Open Membership
Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
2. Democratic Member Control
Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are also organised in a democratic manner.
3. Member Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
4. Autonomy and Independence
Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.
5. Education, Training and Information
Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public – particularly young people and opinion leaders – about the nature and benefits of co-operation.
6. Co-operation among Co-operatives
Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
7. Concern for Community
Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.

September 16, 2014

People’s Climate March in London 21st September 2014

Thousands of people are expected to attend this march.  Further details can be obtained here.

The accompanying film “Disruption”  billed as “the film the fossil fuel industry doesn’t want you to see” is worth a watch.

 

 

 

 

May 29, 2014

It’s simple. If we can’t change our economic system, our number’s up by George Monbiot

'The mother narrative to all this is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots.'

Let us imagine that in 3030BC the total possessions of the people of Egypt filled one cubic metre. Let us propose that these possessions grew by 4.5% a year. How big would that stash have been by the Battle of Actium in 30BC? This is the calculation performed by the investment banker Jeremy Grantham.

Go on, take a guess. Ten times the size of the pyramids? All the sand in the Sahara? The Atlantic ocean? The volume of the planet? A little more? It’s 2.5 billion billion solar systems. It does not take you long, pondering this outcome, to reach the paradoxical position that salvation lies in collapse.

To succeed is to destroy ourselves. To fail is to destroy ourselves. That is the bind we have created. Ignore if you must climate change, biodiversity collapse, the depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil; even if all these issues miraculously vanished, the mathematics of compound growth make continuity impossible.

Economic growth is an artefact of the use of fossil fuels. Before large amounts of coal were extracted, every upswing in industrial production would be met with a downswing in agricultural production, as the charcoal or horse power required by industry reduced the land available for growing food. Every prior industrial revolution collapsed, as growth could not be sustained. But coal broke this cycle and enabled – for a few hundred years – the phenomenon we now call sustained growth.

It was neither capitalism nor communism that made possible the progress and pathologies (total war, the unprecedented concentration of global wealth, planetary destruction) of the modern age. It was coal, followed by oil and gas. The meta-trend, the mother narrative, is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots. Now, with the accessible reserves exhausted, we must ransack the hidden corners of the planet to sustain our impossible proposition.

On Friday, a few days after scientists announced that the collapse of the west Antarctic ice sheet is now inevitable, the Ecuadorean government decided toallow oil drilling in the heart of the Yasuni national park. It had made an offer to other governments: if they gave it half the value of the oil in that part of the park, it would leave the stuff in the ground. You could see this as either blackmail or fair trade. Ecuador is poor, its oil deposits are rich. Why, the government argued, should it leave them untouched without compensation when everyone else is drilling down to the inner circle of hell? It asked for $3.6bn and received $13m. The result is that Petroamazonas, a company with a colourful record of destruction and spills, will now enter one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, in which a hectare of rainforest is said to contain more species than exist in the entire continent of North America.

Almost 45% of the Yasuni national park is overlapped by oil concessions.
 Yasuni national park. Murray Cooper/Minden Pictures/Corbis
The UK oil firm Soco is now hoping to penetrate Africa’s oldest national park, Virunga, in the Democratic Republic of Congo; one of the last strongholds of the mountain gorilla and the okapi, of chimpanzees and forest elephants. In Britain, where a possible 4.4 billion barrels of shale oil has just been identified in the south-east, the government fantasises about turning the leafy suburbs into a new Niger delta. To this end it’s changing the trespass laws to enable drilling without consent and offering lavish bribes to local people. These new reserves solve nothing. They do not end our hunger for resources; they exacerbate it.

The trajectory of compound growth shows that the scouring of the planet has only just begun. As the volume of the global economy expands, everywhere that contains something concentrated, unusual, precious, will be sought out and exploited, its resources extracted and dispersed, the world’s diverse and differentiated marvels reduced to the same grey stubble.

Some people try to solve the impossible equation with the myth of dematerialisation: the claim that as processes become more efficient and gadgets are miniaturised, we use, in aggregate, fewer materials. There is no sign that this is happening. Iron ore production has risen 180% in 10 years. The trade bodyForest Industries tells us that “global paper consumption is at a record high level and it will continue to grow”. If, in the digital age, we won’t reduce even our consumption of paper, what hope is there for other commodities?

Look at the lives of the super-rich, who set the pace for global consumption. Are their yachts getting smaller? Their houses? Their artworks? Their purchase of rare woods, rare fish, rare stone? Those with the means buy ever bigger houses to store the growing stash of stuff they will not live long enough to use. By unremarked accretions, ever more of the surface of the planet is used to extract, manufacture and store things we don’t need. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that fantasies about colonising space – which tell us we can export our problems instead of solving them – have resurfaced.

As the philosopher Michael Rowan points out, the inevitabilities of compound growth mean that if last year’s predicted global growth rate for 2014 (3.1%) is sustained, even if we miraculously reduced the consumption of raw materials by 90%, we delay the inevitable by just 75 years. Efficiency solves nothing while growth continues.

The inescapable failure of a society built upon growth and its destruction of the Earth’s living systems are the overwhelming facts of our existence. As a result, they are mentioned almost nowhere. They are the 21st century’s great taboo, the subjects guaranteed to alienate your friends and neighbours. We live as if trapped inside a Sunday supplement: obsessed with fame, fashion and the three dreary staples of middle-class conversation: recipes, renovations and resorts. Anything but the topic that demands our attention.

Statements of the bleeding obvious, the outcomes of basic arithmetic, are treated as exotic and unpardonable distractions, while the impossible proposition by which we live is regarded as so sane and normal and unremarkable that it isn’t worthy of mention. That’s how you measure the depth of this problem: by our inability even to discuss it.

Twitter: @georgemonbiot. A fully referenced version of this article can be found at Monbiot.com

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Some solutions:

Given the political will, and the will of the people, one solution provided by the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT)  is in reducing our demand for energy in the West (by 60% in the UK) alongside the elimination of fossil fuel use. A model of how this would look in the UK is illustrated  in their ZeroCarbonBritain2030 report which demonstrates that it CAN be done without going back to the Stone Age, or “the lights going out”.

A change in our economic system could involve the  transition to a steady state economy. This could be supported by citizen’s income or basic income, which would protect us from the the effects of zero growth, provide security, and enough to cover basic needs. It would also remove the stigma associated with claiming benefits, as well as removing obstacles to work. Citizen’s income is part of Green Party economic policy and will be included in the Green Party 2015 manifesto. We also have policies to reform the monetary system and the banks, explanation of which I will leave to a future contributor in an upcoming blog.

At a global level, many of these solutions acknowledge our need to be fair to poorer people and poorer countries; the CAT model takes into account our historical responsibility as an industrial nation; estimating an energy budget which would allow greater flexibility to poorer countries who have been left behind.  The Green Party has a policy called “contraction and convergence” which basically means that rich countries would be encouraged to consume less, and be given a smaller budget for CO2, allowing poor countries to develop and consume more, until everyone is at a similar level.  However we need not fear that we will ourselves be reduced to poverty.  In the context of  reaching a sustainable level globally, Patrick Curry, author of “Ecological Ethics” says:

“In principle, there would be no need to choose between social injustice and ecological suicide if the wealthy minority [those in the West, other than people living in poverty or on lower  incomesmy words] were to reduce their consumption – and only to a level which would still enable a reasonably comfortable “European lifestyle” (at the modest end of the spectrum) while the majority increase theirs enough to permit the same”.

However, as George Monbiot argues, we need to start by recognising the problem. Until we do, little progress will be made in discussing solutions and avoiding devastating actions of Ecocide, as described in the article, with consequences on humanity as well.

 

April 1, 2014

Press Release: We Cannot Combat Climate Change by Building Shopping Centres or New Airports

Medway Greens criticise Boris Johnson’s latest proposals.

With the latest IPCC report on man-made climate change making national headlines, Boris Johnson forges ahead with his promotion of a Thames Estuary airport, highlighting potential retail opportunities at the disused Heathrow site. Boris Johnson has stated his determination to continue his fight for an airport in the Thames Estuary whatever decision the Airport Commission make in 2015 (BBC South East Today).
 
Trish Marchant, Medway Green Party member comments:
 
“The IPCC report leaves no doubt that inaction on climate change will cause irreversible damage with flooding, risks to human health, food shortages and increased conflicts. Yet Boris Johnson continues to promote irresponsible airport expansion and additional retail developments which can only make the situation worse”.
 
“No one but the Green Party is emphasising that we need an energy revolution, reducing demand for energy alongside clean energy production.  Firstly, we cannot continue to consume at the rate we are at present if we are to address the climate change crisis. Part of this is that we expend a lot of energy producing consumer goods to fill our shopping malls which we don’t really need. That energy would be better spent keeping our well insulated homes warm and well lit.  Thus we need to reduce energy demand by consuming less and conserving more.  Secondly, we need much more investment in clean energies, wind, tidal and solar.  Any production of energy from fossil fuels will make climate change worse, including that produced by fracking, which the current government seems hell bent on promoting.  Aviation is also a major way that carbon emissions are produced with the added problem that there is no clean way of producing fuel for aircraft. Therefore any kind of expansion of air travel is madness”.
 
Boris Johnson’s proposal has also produced a response from London Assembly Green Party Member Darren Johnson who says:
 
“The only credible solution is to reduce the total number of flights and not build new airports or new runways.  What is the point of building a huge airport in the Thames Estuary flood plain and expanding the total number of flights and climate change emissions?”
 
Trish adds:
 
“The Green Party is the only party that really takes the climate change threat seriously and the only Party that has the solutions.  The type of voting system at the European elections, coming up in May, means that those who want serious action on climate change have a chance to make a difference by voting for their Green MEP.”
 
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ENDS
 
Notes for editor:
Information taken from:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-26819049
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26810559

March 21, 2013

Another Deceptive and Divisive Budget for Private Profit and Public Pain

In the budget statement, George Osborne failed to deliver the economic “reboot” Britain so desperately needs. By further cutting corporation tax the Chancellor reaffirmed the Coalition Government’s commitment to enabling large multinational companies and the wealthy to reap private profits at public expense.

The Chancellor has failed to provide the framework to fulfil the enormous potential of our green economy, which contributed 9% of GDP in 2011. Direct investment in renewable energy and energy conservation, in public services, public transport and public goods are all essential to a prosperous and sustainable future.

This is yet another budget that treats the public with contempt, continuing to peddle the myth that our national debt and deficit increased due to excessive public spending rather than bank bailouts.

The British people deserve the truth. The Chancellor refused to admit that this government is using the banking bailout deficit to slash expenditure on essential public services to justify tax cuts for the richest people and for corporations using tax havens to avoid paying a fair contribution to society. And, of course, allowing wealthy individuals and multinational corporations to pay ever-decreasing income tax worsens the deficit that the government claims to be so concerned about.

The Chancellor misled Parliament and the public: unemployment has increased since his government came to office (2.53m up from 2.47m). He says borrowing is down but a like for like comparison puts new borrowing up by 2.2bn on last year, at £123.2bn.

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett comments:

“George Osborne’s obsession with austerity is now glaringly clear. With even the International Monetary Fund telling him he needs to spend more money, he’s still stuck with Plan A, which is failing in even its own terms, with his deficit-reduction targets extending ever further into the distant future. We need to invest to create jobs, to make our economy and our homes fit for the 21st century, to create a jobs-rich, low-carbon future, with manufacturing and food production brought back to Britain.

“The Bank of England has already e-printed £375 billion for quantitative easing, to the great benefit of the richest 5% in Britain and little impact for the rest of us; what Osborne should have done today was set out a big investment programme in renewable energy generation and energy efficiency at interest rates designed to maximise uptake rather than profits for Green Deal lenders. Treating 1 million of our cold draughty homes each year would create 140,000 jobs, save each household up to £250 in fuel bills, and cut carbon emissions.”

Welfare Cuts

The Chancellor has proved himself hopelessly out of touch with the realities facing the majority of British families and the real terms cut to welfare will plunge already suffering households further into debt and desperation. A new report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation warns that a combination tax rises, welfare cuts, and wages freezes will mean that within two years almost 7.1m of the nation’s 13m children will be living “below the breadline”.

460,000 children would be pushed below those levels by the increase in VAT and cuts to tax credits, 170,000 by sluggish wage growth and 80,000 by the curbs on public sector pay. Just 20,000 would be raised above the minimum level by the new Universal Credit system, which begins to come into force in October. 90 per cent of families will be worse off in 2015 than in 2010.

Personal Allowance vs. Public Service Cuts

Under the new budget, the first £10,000 of income are tax-free for all workers, regardless of their tax rate. This tax cut is being paid for primarily by cuts in services, which are relied upon by the very same poorest people in the UK, and the loss of those services will not be made up for by the tax cut. The cut is also being given to everyone, regardless of income level, which gives the rich a total tax cut of £42,500 per year. This means the main benefit – the potential of lessening the gap between rich and poor – is wiped out.

Corporation Tax Giveaway

This is a race to the bottom. The changes will encourage multinationals to shift more of their business to tax havens. There is no benefit to small- and medium-sized British companies. The reforms represent a triumph of corporate regulatory capture, begun under the last Labour government and accelerated under this one.

  • By the time Osborne’s cuts to corporation tax – from 28% when the coalition took power, to 21% by 2015 – have been phased in, the government will have forfeited £5bn a year in revenue.
  • The IMF says cutting corporation tax does not boost growth.(1)
  • Fair corporate taxation does not mean an uncompetitive economy: two of the four most competitive countries in 2011(2) (Finland (3) and Sweden (4)) had higher tax rates than the UK.(3)
  • These changes will not benefit the SMEs that make up almost 60% of private sector employment, but instead allow large multinational corporations to use tax havens to an even greater extent to avoid contributing to our society.

Tax Cuts for the Wealthiest

Cutting tax for the richest individuals won’t drive growth or create jobs but it will increase our deficit. The Centre for Economic Policy Research has shown that cuts to top tax rates do not translate to higher economic growth.(4) The Green Party would ensure high earners pay their fair share of tax contributions by extending the 50p tax rate to cover salaries over £100,000, raising around £2.3bn per year. We also have a policy of 10:1 ratio between the highest and lowest paid workers.

The Chancellor refuses to admit that this government is using the banking bailout deficit to slash expenditure on essential public services to justify tax cuts for the richest people and for corporations use tax havens to avoid paying a fair contribution to our society.

Osborne’s actions do not match reality and nor does his rhetoric: he claims that the IMF supports his studies, while IMF studies show that austerity never results in economic recovery.

In addition to these losses in revenue, the exchequer will be deprived of close to £1bn a year by 2015 in taxes on foreign subsidiaries.

The Green Party would phase out VAT – a regressive tax on spending which hits poorest people hardest – and replace it with taxes to cover the full environmental costs of pollution and raw material use, levied as close to the point of production as is practical. We would introduce a wealth tax to ensure the richest in society make a fair contribution and use taxes on international financial transactions and on bank profits from polluting investments to incentivise and finance a Green economic transition.

Tax Avoidance

If Osborne really wanted to reduce the deficit or fill the tax gap of £35bn(5) to £120bn(6) he wouldn’t have slashed HMRC staff by 10,000 and funding by £3bn in 2010. By 2015, staffing levels will be at an all-time low of 56,100, significantly limiting HMRC’s ability to collect taxes.

Nor would he have slashed tax rates by 75%(7) for multinational companies with subsidiaries in tax havens, as he did in 2011 and which he has not reversed. And he’s proudly boasted about further cutting tax rates for large corporations from 28% in 2010 to a historic low of 21% in 2014, when what we need is for companies to pay a fair share of contributions to the society that enables their profits.

If the Government were serious about cracking down on tax avoidance and evasion it would be shutting down tax havens such as the City of London and Crown Dependencies and it would have supported Caroline Lucas’ private members bill requiring all companies to publish what they earn, a crucial building block for any system that is tough on tax evasion and avoidance.

A Green government would make corporations pay a fair contribution to society by closing corporate tax avoidance loopholes. We would reverse the Tory-Lib Dem tax giveaway for multinational companies with financial subsidiaries in tax havens, increasing tax rates from 5.75% back to 23%.

We would increase the declining main rate of corporation tax from 21% in 2014 back to 30% but keeping small firms’ rates substantially lower, to support the main job creators in our economy.

Shale Gas Tax Breaks

The lack of commitment to ensuring that Britain has a stable energy policy will plunge us further into fuel poverty and increase our reliance on economically volatile and environmentally destructive fuel sources.

Tax breaks for environmentally and socially reckless energy shale gas will help a few corporations at the expense of everyone else. Shale gas is bad for Britain due to local environmental impacts(8) (including water contamination, air pollution and release of carcinogens) and its absolute incompatibility with our international climate crisis commitments(9) The Department of Energy and Climate Change(10) and other experts(11) say shale gas is unlikely to reduce energy prices significantly. Furthermore, it will suppress the development of renewables(12): money spent on a reckless dash for shale gas could provide 7-12GW of offshore wind capacity(13).

New Nuclear: Holding the Nation to Ransom

UK new nuclear is likely to be significantly more expensive per unit of electricity supplied than any other low-carbon energy source(14) and too slow to deploy to meet our pressing energy needs. Furthermore, the costs and dangers of nuclear energy and its waste will be passed on to future generations long after any benefits have been exhausted.

A Green government would cancel construction of new nuclear stations and nuclear power would not be eligible for feed-in tariffs.

1 http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.cfm?sk=23053.0

2 The World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Global Competitiveness Report ranks countries on 12 ‘pillars’ of competitiveness such as infrastructure, healthcare, education, technological readiness and more – factors that depend heavily on tax revenues.

3 http://www.oecd.org/tax/tax-policy/oecdtaxdatabase.htm#C_CorporateCaptial

4 http://www.cepr.org/pubs/new-dps/dplist.asp?dpno=8675.asp

5 http://www.hmrc-corporatecommunications.co.uk/assets/d/3/3/f/d36f34877ac0b95f25f075996021507fc42fb5b6c909187949/HMRC%20Parliamentary%20Briefing%20-%20Calculating%20the%20tax%20gap.pdf

6 http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Documents/FAQ1TaxGap.pdf

7 http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/press_68_11.htm

8 AEA Technology plc (2012) Support to the identification of potential risks for the environment and human health arising from hydrocarbons operations involving hydraulic fracturing in Europe.

9 Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research (2012). The Impact of Shale Gas on Energy Markets.

10 DECC (2011) The Impact of Shale Gas on Energy Markets.

11 Deutsche Bank (2011) European Gas: A First Look At EU Shale-Gas Prospects.

12 Jacoby et al. (2012) The Influence of Shale Gas on U.S. Energy and Environmental Policy, Economics of Energy & Environmental Policy, 1(1), 37-51.

13 Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research (2012) op. cit.

14 Harris et al. (2012). Cost estimates for nuclear power in the UK

August 15, 2012

John Ward’s ‘The Big Eco-Con’ Blog – A Response

On Tuesday, 14th August, John Ward published a blog, The Big Eco-Con, which requires a response to the lack of insight.  The text below in italics are quotes from Mr Ward’s blog and my responses follow each quote.

Thankfully, the (mostly) myth surrounding the notion of ‘man-made global warming’ has been realised – especially when its title had to be amended to ‘climate change’ as a catch-all – and then it was discovered that, in secret, the Bilderbergers were now looking at global cooling as a very real phenomenon.

With this statement, Mr Ward shows he has not understood either the issue or the terminology.

“Climate change is a moral issue of unprecedented scope, a matter of intergenerational injustice, as today’s adults obtain benefits of fossil fuel use, while consequences are felt mainly by young people and future generations.”
James Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and Adjunct Professor of Earth Sciences at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

Ken Caldeira is another leading climate scientist (http://dge.stanford.edu/labs/caldeiralab/) and has spoken in similar terms to James Hansen re climate change:

“Given what we know now, it is simply unethical to impose risk of grave damage on future generations just so that we can have a few more consumer products today. The only ethical path is to stop using the atmosphere as a waste dump for greenhouse gas pollution.”

“As a political strategy, are we supposed to believe that somehow atmospheric CO2 concentrations will be lower in the future if today we expand fossil fuel industries that rely on using the atmosphere as a waste dump? Am I really supposed to persuaded that the path to lower future CO2 concentrations is by building more power plants with smokestacks that dump CO2 into the atmosphere?”

The full posting may be read via this link:
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/04/15/462803/caldeira-only-ethical-path-is-to-stop-using-the-atmosphere-as-a-waste-dump-for-greenhouse-gas-pollution/

With regards to the terminology, global warming is an overall warming of the planet, based on average temperature over the entire surface; climate change, however, relates to changes in regional climate characteristics, including temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind, and severe weather events.  In March 2011, I wrote a short blog about the use of the two terms.

Then the eco-fascists around the world, including our own Green party, were staunchly against nuclear power. Why? It can’t be because of radiation, surely.

In May 2010, I wrote a Nuclear Power – Unwanted and Unnecessary series of blogs and they address Mr Ward’s statement: part one followed on from my blog concerning the impacts of mining nuclear fuel and covered the consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear accident; part two covered health and waste issues; part three covered fourth generation nuclear reactors; and part four covered how nuclear power cannot play a significant role in the reduction of CO2 and how energy efficiency and renewables can supply the answer.

Indeed, coal-fired power stations are at least as ‘dangerous’ in this respect, and almost certainly more so: they certainly are in America, as OMG Facts explains (with a link to the source of this information).

The Medway Green Party was heavily involved in the campaign against a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth.  If we look at just one related blog, Kingsnorth from May 2010, we find the Medway Green Party also highlighted the health impacts of coal: Coal’s Assault on Human Health by the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR).

The Greens also have a real thing about wind turbines – but that is no solution either. The figures that came out earlier this month showed that Britain’s wind turbines are between them currently providing well under a thousandth of the nation’s needs (0.03%).

A March 2011 blog, There is More to Renewables Than Just Wind, opened with the statement “There does seem to be a feeling amongst some politicians and members of the public that wind is the only source of renewable energy – last week’s (17th March) Question Time was a good example of this – leading to the conclusion that renewables are not diverse sources of energy.”  The blog then summarised the sources of renewable energy, which are:

  • bioenergy;
  • hydropower;
  • solar power (concentrating/concentrated, CSP);
  • solar power (photovoltaics);
  • tidal power;
  • wave power;
  • wind power (offshore); and
  • wind power (onshore).

The blog also contained a link to the Zero Carbon Britain web site from which the report Zero Carbon Britain 2030 – A New Energy Strategy can be downloaded; the report details how we can be zero carbon – without the use of nuclear or CCS with fossil fuels – within 20 years.

Of course, the whole idea of the Greens, as an essentially Communist-style party, was to find and expand a lever they can pull in order to have dominion over the rest of us. This is why almost their entire core policy platform involves sticks rather than carrots: additional taxes, regulations, penalties and other impositions.

This approach is typical of Mr Ward: he uses sweeping statements, along with what some people may consider provocative words (e.g. “Communist”), without providing support for his arguments.  These are the core values of the Green Party and they form part of our Policies for a Sustainable Society:

  1. Humankind depends on the diversity of the natural world for its existence. We do not believe that other species are expendable.
  2. The Earth’s physical resources are finite. We threaten our future if we try to live beyond those means, so we must build a sustainable society that guarantees our long-term future.
  3. Every person, in this and future generations, should be entitled to basic material security as of right.
  4. Our actions should take account of the well-being of other nations, other species, and future generations. We should not pursue our well-being to the detriment of theirs.
  5. A healthy society is based on voluntary co-operation between empowered individuals in a democratic society, free from discrimination whether based on race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, religion, social origin or any other prejudice.
  6. We emphasise democratic participation and accountability by ensuring that decisions are taken at the closest practical level to those affected by them.
  7. We look for non-violent solutions to conflict situations, which take into account the interests of minorities and future generations in order to achieve lasting settlements.
  8. The success of a society cannot be measured by narrow economic indicators, but should take account of factors affecting the quality of life for all people: personal freedom, social equity, health, happiness and human fulfilment.
  9. Electoral politics is not the only way to achieve change in society, and we will use a variety of methods to help effect change, providing those methods do not conflict with our other core principles.
  10. The Green Party puts changes in both values and lifestyles at the heart of the radical green agenda.

The Green Party’s policies cover a wide area – e.g. culture, media and sport; food and agriculture; housing; and responsibilities and rights – and I encourage people to read the policies then make up their minds about Mr Ward’s statements.

Green politics is not about “left”, “right”, “socialism”, etc.; Green politics is about understanding and believing we depend on the diversity of the natural world for our existence, that other species are not expendable, and that all human activities must be indefinitely sustainable (i.e. we must neither use resources faster than they can be replaced nor create effects or products which cannot be assimilated harmlessly and indefinitely by the environment).

Finally, Mr Ward refers to a programme in which the presenter, Iain Dale, and members of the public put questions to the Green Party leadership contenders and, at the time of writing (15th August), the programme is available online.

David M. Davison

March 17, 2012

Regeneration through clean generation – A better use of Kingsnorth

Comment by Trish Marchant

The closure of Kingsnorth coal power station 2 years early is, in a very real way, a complicated picture.

It is of course a personal disaster for the people being made redundant, although there is likely to be many good jobs for years to decommission the old station. For our energy security it is bad as it does produce 3% of Britain’s’ electricity.

In other ways it is good news. It is good for the health of the people of The Peninsula and may be the beginning of the end of the Hoo Hack. For climate change it is a good thing if it is not replaced by another coal, oil or fracked gas power station.

But what is really shown up in this news is the lack of a Government plan to meet our agreed CO2 targets. Or an energy plan come to that. If there was such a plan then the energy companies would be building renewable energy infrastructure that could create 100,000s of jobs and the government would be investing in the insulation of every home and business creating 100,000s more jobs.  Added to this is the governments cut in feed-in tariffs for everyone instead of a refocus of it to stop rented roof cowboys.

The land is to be held by E.On so we do not know that this is the end of their coal ambitions. They say it is economics not environmentalists that stopped it building new. They are waiting for the price to be right to build a new station there. It is a lack of an energy plan that gives them hope. Because sooner or later we will need new energy generation and if the government do nothing to encourage sustainable renewables then the likes of E.On will lobby for new coal.

Of course carbon capture and storage is off the books because the government would not fund the trial to the full amount and the energy companies pulled out. But they are capitalist companies surely they don’t believe in subsidies to get unproven technology fit to work. At least that’s what they say when it comes to renewables.

Unemployment in Medway is high. The council needs to do more to encourage small business, entrepreneurs and apprenticeships. They are the employers who have the biggest share of people in work, not the superstores. We needs to refill our empty shops and homes with local business and local people. To combat the rising cost of commuting and nondescript out of town shopping we need vibrant, locally focused town centres with proper markets and independent shops. With a decent bus service to get people in and out to our leisure, health and educational facilities as well as the shops. If the money spent in the Medway Towns stays in the Medway Towns we would have more invested, more spent, more employment, and more community.

The government of the UK and others in Europe could spend a fraction of the money they have wasted in propping up a failed economic model on jobs in the renewable industry. We would be employed, energy secure and protecting future generations from the effects of man made climate change.  The existing areas of industrial development on the Hoo Peninsula are ideal locations for regeneration through clean generation.

February 15, 2012

Tories Troubled by Wind

Tories Troubled By Wind

Last week saw 100 MPs, majority of whom are conservative and including Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford and Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, write a letter to the Prime Minister demanding a dramatic reduction in subsidies to on-shore wind. While off shore wind receives no subsidy, all other renewable energy receives the Renewable Obligation Payment. The complaint of these 100 MPs is that they should not get this payment.

Trish Marchant, from Medway Green Party, is keen to challenge this demand. “It is a smoke screen to pick on on-shore wind. Perhaps Tracey, Mark and the others would like to get back the billions of pounds of subsidy paid to the nuclear and fossil fuel companies over the years? These subsidies have been much higher per year and still represent a significant benefit to the coal, oil, gas and nuclear industry. Lets no forget that tax payers still stand to fork out £70 billion to decommission the old nukes. And the subsidies the government do pay out are hugely in favour of the nuclear industry which they describe, contentiously, as low carbon.”

In their letter the MPs describe turbines as intermittent, a term commonly used by anti-wind campaigners. RenewableUK, the organisation which represents the wind industry, state that this simply isn’t true. They explain this that while wind power varies around the country it is rarely off, and the more wind generators there are the better as while the wind varies across the country it rarely (if ever) reduces to zero.

Trish Marchant added “It could be that these MPs just don’t like wind energy, maybe have an interest in nuclear and fossil fuel companies, and or belong to the Nigel Lawson school of climate change sceptics. More than 80% of us do actually like wind turbines and appreciate why they are there so the opposition of these MPs is clearly undemocratic. Also one must assume that Tracey, Mark and others don’t realise the employment wind energy can produce. In Germany for example, where they have 10 times more turbines than us, they employ 250,000 people to maintain them. That could be a significant boost to job creation, at present we employ less than 10,000 people in the wind sector.”

Environmentalist are keen to stress the other benefits to wind energy; far less road or rail traffic required after a turbine is installed as opposed to coal, oil, gas and nuclear hence secondary pollution is reduced dramatically. All public bodies, from universities to hospitals, are required to reduce their CO2 emissions or pay massive costs back to the government. Putting turbines can be seen as a simple, low impact solution to this requirement. The MPs letter also mentions the planning laws being to lax in allowing inappropriate wind turbine placement.

Trish Marchant finds this hypocritical “This is a bit rich as Labour and the Tories both swept in new regulations telling us we could build our porches and conservatories more easily. But environmentalists have opposed this bill since it’s inception as it will mean we as the people have very limited or no rights to oppose construction of anything seen by central government as of national importance. The anti-nuclear movement saw this immediately as a Government move to ease the building of new nuclear power stations. The MPs are happy to support this for their own ends but wish to oppose it when it suits them. Surely it is better to see the faults with a law and get it changed before, not use it as an excuse to denigrate wind power?”

Notes:

  1. RenewableUK paper on variability of wind http://www.bwea.com/pdf/briefings/Wind-Power-Variability.pdf
  2. Electricity question “What happens when the wind stops blowing?” http://www.ewea.org/index.php?id=1884
  3. Letter from 100 MPs http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9061554/Full-letter-from-MPs-to-David-Cameron-on-wind-power-subsidies.html